Sunday, 30 December 2012


Restaurant Review - Jan 

If you recall two months back I mentioned about doing a tapas expedition / trail which consisted of the newly opened Binomio restaurant at Craig Road. Well it was recently reviewed by Wong Ah Yoke in the Sunday Times and given a rating of 3.5 out of 5 so I decided to do a review on this place and see how it compares to the rating given by Mr. Wong. The restaurant is closed on Sunday which is the usual day for our family dinners so instead we went on a Friday night.

Binomio restaurant at Craig Road
The place was ¾ full when we arrived

The front of the restaurant features a 15-20 seater bar where you can have Tapas food while having a drink. There is heavy use of wood and bricks to create a very homely feel with the Motif tiles giving it a Spanish touch. The restaurant though has a more intimate feel with the white stone walls and lighting giving a semi-fine Mediterranean dining sort of ambience. The place was ¾ full when we arrived and service was prompt considering they looked slightly understaffed.

The Spanish person that served us, Eduardo, made some recommendations and my brother wasted no time in ordering. As I heard him rattle the order to Eduardo, I recalled how it is usually a mistake to let the biggest person on the table order the food. “Well we came here to review the restaurant so of course we have to order more dishes”, came the prompt response to the shock look on our faces. Being the second biggest guy on the table and a natural born glutton, I was actually smiling inside but clearly the ladies were not amused.

To get ourselves in the Spanish mood, we shared a jug of Sangria Tinta. It tasted quite strong initially but as the ice melted, it was perfect. I really enjoyed the alcohol infused medley of fruits, especially the mangosteen, at the bottom of the Sangria. The first dish to hit our table was the mushroom croquetas. The thin crispy coating did well to contain a mouthful of finely chopped mushroom in a creamy béchamel sauce. I usually prefer the Jamon filled croquetas but this version was just as good.

Jamon Iberico  served on a wooden board with
tomato puree on the side

Next came the Jamon Iberico which was served on a wooden board with tomato puree on the side. The menu describes it as puree but I prefer to call it tomato jelly. It is the best part of the tomato, the gelatinous section in the cavity that contains the seeds. The jelly is proven to contain higher levels of glutamic acid and nucleotides than the flesh hence the stronger umami taste. The slippery / slimy consistency is something I remembered hating as a child but have since grown to like. The Jamon we got was hand sliced and from the bottom of the leg which is the drier part. Unfortunately the Jamon, like most meat cuts, is a natural product with differences in the various parts of the cut. The bottom part is drier due to less fat, suited the ladies well, but has deeply concentrated flavours.

Octopus with potato puree

Next we had the octopus with potato puree in stock seasoned with smoked paprika. The slices of octopus, like soldiers in file, were neatly arranged and held in place by the potato puree beneath it. The octopus’s texture was just right, not too chewy and not to mushy. The stock was a little watery but the potato puree helped to thicken it when eaten together. 6 of us annihilated the 12 “soldiers” in two quick rounds.

Pork belly with razor clams, cauliflower puree
and rostid sauce

Next in the firing line was the pork belly with razor clams, cauliflower puree and roasted sauce. “Wow, wow, wow!”, came the various exclamations as each one popped a slice of pork belly in the mouth. The wonderfully char grilled fatty pork belly was crispy on the outside and melt in your mouth on the insides with the fat giving a burst of flavour that is simply, Wow! This dish is not for someone who dislikes fat because it almost seems like the chef sliced it horizontally along the fat layer to achieve that much fat in every slice but hey, i’m not complaining. The only downside is that their supplier and the whole of Singapore, according to Chef Jose, is out of razor clams or at least the quality that meets his expectations. He substituted it with prawns which went well but I can imagine the razor clams giving a nice chewy contrast to the dish.

Pan-fried strips of cuttlefish

To round up our tapas (“appetizer”) dishes, we had the pan-fried strips of cuttlefish with sofrito and emulsified veal jus. This is a unique dish to me as I never had cuttlefish done this way. The strips resembled Tagliatelle pasta and the texture almost did as well. In fact so much so that my wife, which dislikes cuttlefish due to the chewy texture, enjoyed it. Sofrito is a combination of aromatic ingredients sautéed together and in the case of Spanish cuisine, it consists of garlic, onions, peppers and tomatoes cooked in olive oil. The caramalised onions gave a flavourful sweetness to the dish with some punch coming from the thickened veal jus.

Squid ink paella

We had the two types of Paella offered on the menu, the classic and the squid ink. Both paella contained seafood, namely fish, prawns and baby squid with the addition of chicken for the Classic paella. Both paellas were cooked perfectly, not too moist and not too dry. The thin even layer of al dente bomba rice was richly flavoured and to our surprise, it was the squid ink paella that was unanimously better. Even my dad who dislikes squid ink was caught scraping the pan clean. Personally I would have liked to have some clams or mussels for the squid ink and chorizo for the classic. I must say that the squid ink version beats any squid ink paellas I have ever tried.

The grilled fish with escalivada is a little misleading as although the fish is grilled, it is served in the form of a stew. Escalivada is typically a dish consisting of grilled vegetables and the Catalan word Escalivar means 'to roast over ashes or embers’. I take it in this instance it refers to the way the fish is grilled. The fish is served with deshelled prawns whose shells have been used to create the bisque like (without cream) stock which is well seasoned with smoked paprika. The resulting broth is packed full of crustacean goodness which tastes sweet, salty and ends with a slight bitterness. I found myself having spoonfuls of the broth with the chunks of potatoes even though I was full by now.         

The veal shank was presented looking like a piece of short rib

The veal shank which was presented looking like a piece of short rib was braised till it was falling off the bone tender which probably explains why it was served without the bone! The meat was served on top of small amounts of potato puree with the thick and intense veal jus completing this dish. The last dish we had is one of the signature dishes here which is the slow cooked and roasted suckling pig “Segovian” style. The meat here is a lot more moist and tender than in most places I have tried although the skin is not quite as crispy as in some places. It is very difficult to get both these factors outstanding and I think Chef Jose has done a commendable job with the baby pig. This is served with garlic puree, endives and fried Spanish Padrón peppers. The garlic puree and sauce might be overpowering for some but you know I like my garlic. The endive and pepper was a welcome accompaniment in a meal that was sorely lacking vegetables.

We finished the meal with three desserts! Point taken again not to let the ladies order desserts who always complain they are full but have reserve space for sweets. We had the white chocolate butter bread with strawberry soup and vanilla ice cream. I enjoyed the chocolate brioche although I would have preferred Movenpick Vanilla ice cream instead of the ice cream that was served. We also had strawberry mousse with diced strawberry topped with ice cream and champagne foam. The last dessert being my favourite was the caramelised pineapple cubes with coconut sorbet and toffee mousse. I’m no fan of mousse but the caramelised pineapple cubes with coconut sorbet was like eating Pina Colada, yum!

I thought 3.5 out of 5 star given by Mr. Wong Ah Yoke is a little harsh. Granted the desserts here are not the best (suits me as I’m not a big dessert person), however the earlier dishes are really quite remarkable. Chef Jose has managed to keep the dishes simple and tasty which in my opinion, is the most important element. Taking into account that we cleaned out all the plates of food even though we ordered so much shows that we thoroughly enjoyed the meal here.  I would definitely give this restaurant a 4 out of 5 star rating.

~ Andre Huber

Huber's Butchery paid for its own at the eatery mentioned here.
Binomio: 20 Craig Road, Craig Place #01-02, Singapore 089692   |   Tel: 65570547 

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